Your Baby

Your baby is close to 8 ½ inches in length this week, measuring from crown to rump and weighs just about a pound! Even with survival rates increasing for extremely premature babies in recent years, your baby would have less than a 10% chance of survival with intensive care if he or she were born at the end of this week. Babies born this early are at a significant risk for severe complications, particularly intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). This happens when the brain begins to bleed, usually within the first few days after birth. However, the chance of survival increases to 20-40% in just two short weeks. Survival rates tend to increase close to 2% each and every day babies stay in the womb. Also, the likelihood your baby will have serious (and possibly life-threatening) problems decreases with each week that goes by.

The majority of the time (about 90-95%), your little one is sound asleep. Just prior to birth, your baby will sleep close to the same amount as a newborn; approximately 85–90% of the time. As your baby sleeps deeply, he or she exhibits all the characteristics of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep, your baby’s eyes flutter, as well as move back and forth (just as yours do normally during REM). Your baby’s pulse increases, his or her muscles twitch and brain activity increases during this stage of sleep. Some scientists believe brain development occurs during REM sleep, mainly because of the brain activity. Dreaming is also thought to be possible. Researchers believe that babies dream, possibly about sensations they feel in the womb, since they don’t have visual experiences to dream about at this point.

Between your baby’s frequent naps, he or she stretches and flexes; moving more than 50 times each hour. Many of these movements are too delicate for you to detect. Your little one on-the-way is already developing a strong grasp reflex and exercises his or her fingers and toes constantly, during awake periods. Your baby extends his or her body and even touches his or her own face. Soon, your baby will even be coordinated enough to grasp the umbilical cord with his or her fingers!

Your Body

Your uterus may be about 1 inch above your belly button this week. If you are one of the many moms-to-be who have their belly button pierced, you’re probably wondering if you have to take out your jewelry and if so, when a good time is to remove it. You can continue to wear your belly button jewelry as long as you choose to, but you may get to a point where it becomes uncomfortable or the hole begins to stretch. As the skin on your abdomen stretches tightly with your growing belly, you may begin to experience a pulling sensation. Also, when your belly button begins to protrude, your jewelry may rub on your clothing or get caught on things much more easily and become quite an annoyance. For the sake of comfort, you may decide to remove your belly button jewelry (or upsize it) within the next several weeks. On the other hand, some women leave their jewelry in their entire pregnancy without any problems. It all boils down to individual comfort.

If your piercing has fully healed, the opening may still be there after your baby’s birth and you may be able to put the jewelry back in without too much trouble. If the hole closes, you can always just have it re-pierced later on. If you wish to keep the hole open, you can try threading a new piece of fishing line through the opening. There are also flexible plastic-like bars that tend to be less irritating during pregnancy, which can be worn until your jewelry can be re-inserted. They are made of a substance called polytetrafluoroethylene (or PTFE for short). PTFE body jewelry bends with your body, unlike metal jewelry and is the most comfortable jewelry made today. Some heart valves and other surgical implants are made from PTFE, because it’s the least allergenic material available.

You may find yourself suffering from occasional leg cramps and spasms which can be uncomfortable or even quite severe at times. These cramps may become more persistent as your pregnancy progresses, though soon you won’t even be able to see your legs! The most common area to feel cramping is in your calves, particularly if you stretch and point your toes before getting out of bed in the morning. This miserable complaint of pregnancy is thought to have several possible causes including your uterus placing pressure on the nerves of the pelvis. Calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C deficiencies are other possible contributors to this problem. Staying active and exercising regularly seems to help alleviate leg cramps. Try massaging your legs, particularly the calf muscles, before bed. During a cramp, message the area until the pain lets up, then apply a heating pad or hot water bottle to soothe sore muscles. A warm bath never hurts! Most leg cramps are completely harmless, but it’s best to report all leg pain to your doctor or midwife, because the pain could be a sign of something more serious such as thrombophlebitis.

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